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Linvel Barker

Born in Eastern Kentucky, Linvel Barker was a friend of Minnie and Garland Adkins. Inspired by their carving, he began his own work in the mid 1980s, often collaborating with his wife Lillian. Carving from a single piece of basswood, his work is reminiscent of Modernist works, such as Constantin Brancusi’s Bird in Space, often carved from a single piece of marble and smoothed to a flawless finish.


He is best known for his carvings of animals, simplifying their form to highlight minimal details and the proportions of the body. While traditional Kentucky folk art like the Adkins’ consists of brightly painted and carved wood, Linvel focuses on the shape, line, and bare wood surface, sanding his carvings so the forms become delicately balanced figures.


Related artists in KMAC's collection:

Garland Adkins, Minnie Adkins, Ernest Baker, Minnie Black, Marvin Finn, Denzil Goodpaster, Tim Hall, Larry Hamm, Alma Lesch, Erma "Junior" Lewis, Tim Lewis, Lloyd "Hog" Mattingly, Carl McKenzie, Earnest Patton, Donny Tolson


Click to view an archival list of all artists in the collection.


Recurring themes:

Agriculture, Domestic Life, Spirituality


KMAC exhibitions:

Permanent Collection: Recent Acquisitions


Reference material:

Barker, Linvel, et al. Linvel Barker: Works from the Collection of Rita Biesiot. Morehead: Morehead State University Kentucky Folk Art Center, 2012.


Crown, Carol, Cheryl Rivers, and University of Mississippi. The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, Volume 23: Folk Art. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2013.


Laffal, Florence, and Julius Laffal. American Self-Taught Art: An Illustrated Analysis of 20th Century Artists and Trends with 1,319 Capsule Biographies. Jefferson: McFarland & Co., 2003.


Moses, Kathy. Outsider Art of the South. Atglen: Schiffer Pub., 1999.


Swain, Adrian. Local Visions: Folk Art from Northeast Kentucky. Morehead, Ky.: Morehead State University, 1990.



Linden wood. Courtesy of the artist.



Linden wood. Courtesy of the artist.

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